Okay, I admit it. I am the first one to become nostalgic this time of year.
Songs with the sound of bells tinkling playing over department store speakers melts my little heart into a puddle. All I have to do is smell a little cinnamon while looking at Christmas decorations to feel that “It’s Christmas time again” feeling, and it doesn’t even matter that there are cobwebs and witches on the next aisle. I get giddy when I see snowmen and Christmas trees pop up in the mall, and I love the big puffy metallic bows on shiny gifts and stockings overflowing their capacity.
I confess. I’m a sucker for all things Christmas.
And yet I feel guilty, because I get so carried away with the holiday festivities, I need a microscope to find Jesus in all of the fanfare.
Even though the holly and jolly stuff isn’t inherently evil, I know I’m not immune to its wiles. I HAVE to keep the gospel front and center so we don’t need that microscope.
Here are five ways from our house to yours to not lose sight of the gospel this Christmas…
1)Talk about the Truth in your traditions.
It is possible to put up a tree, string the lights, place the angel on top of the tree and give gifts in a way that points to the gospel. Tying scriptures into our traditions will make them more meaningful. Make the truth central.
2) Encourage a giver mentality rather than a receiver mentality.
Face it, the gifts are coming. Grandparents ask for lists and packages arrive at the door. We ALL know there is something under the tree for each one of us. Make a new family tradition of finding others in need and do something special to help. This is a great way to take the focus off ourselves and live out what God has called us to as believers.
3) Reinforce gratitude.
We are expectant people, and we have become an entitled society, anticipating things because we are owed them. But God owns everything. In His grace, He provides for our needs. Knowing that apart from Him we would have nothing is a good place to start. And acknowledging Him in everything is even better.
4) Pray that God is rightly honored.
We need the Spirit to work in us to bring about knowledge of God and His truth. We need to be asking God to provide and be depending on Him for the results. Worshiping Him as sovereign God is one HUGE way to give Him the honor He alone deserves.
5) Tell the Gospel story over and over again.
There is a natural flow from the story of Jesus’ birth to the cross. Share the Gospel simply because the purpose for Jesus’ birth is actually His death. He was born so He could become the atoning sacrifice for the sins of men.
Ultimately, when it is all said and done, the hard truth is this: Anything that shades our eyes from focusing on the Gospel during this season should be carefully inspected. That may mean radical amputation of a particular cultural tradition. It might mean simply cutting back in order to hone in on what’s most important. Because the death of Jesus is what gives His birth significance.
Without Jesus, I would be separated from God. I would be lost, barren, and without purpose. But Jesus’s birth, death, and resurrection fixed all those things. And you can’t stuff that in a stocking.
So get giddy in the decoration aisle. Enjoy the sights of light displays and beautiful decorations, the smells of a Christmas meal and sounds of a family gathering…they are blessings and memories made at this time of the year. And yes, I love it all.
But if we only have room for holly jolly and silver bells, we’re missing the whole point. Intentionally make Jesus the center of your celebration. Because if there’s no Gospel, there’s no lasting joy in Christmas.